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Go viral and meet your marketing goals with social media

If your business hasn't entered into the social media stratosphere yet, right now is a good time to start. Going social with your business is a vital component in achieving your goals. Most of your clients are likely active on multiple social media channels. If your business already has social media presence, work toward strengthening your presence to compete with other businesses.

Here's a snapshot of the users of social media's major players:
  • Facebook

    • Facebook is a great place to start to get your business involved in social media. With over one billion active users, Facebook is a website with a large audience. When clients "like" and share your posts, you will learn more about type of content your target audience is interested in seeing on your page. Facebook is a straight-forward way for your clients to send messages or make posts to your business timeline with questions or other feedback. Creating and maintaining a Facebook page is one way to help your clients to feel more connected to your business on a day-to-day basis.
  • Twitter

    • With over 600 million registered users, Twitter is an effective way to share messages with your clients. Your tweets might include everything from announcements, special deals, event promos, or other general information. Twitter is a useful way to engage with your clients and find out more about what their interests are in a timely manner. Clients can @ message, reply, retweet, and favorite your tweets. Using Twitter's built in search tool, you can keep up-to-date with references to your business as well as mentions of your competition.  

http://twitter.com/tbhcreative 
  • Pinterest

    • When using Pinterest, keep your users in mind and create multiple boards related to the subject of your business. Show authority by curating content on relevant topics where you're considered an expert. Your business can create your own pins or re-pin from others that have similar content. Make sure that if you aren't creating your own pins, that you re-pin from sources that have accurate information. Your pins should be relevant, interesting, and promote your brand.
    http://www.pinterest.com/tbhcreative
    • Instagram

      • Instagram has over 150 million users. Your business can show off its personality by posting relevant pictures to the platform. For example, if your business has products, posting images of the products may not only get the attention of existing fans but also encourage new people to follow your company and potentially make future purchases, too.

    Optimizing images for your website

    Screengrab of a recent TBH Creative blog post that incorporates an optmized image
    When adding images to blog posts, use accurate
    file names, minimize file sizes, and add relevant
    caption information.
    Have you visited a web site that loads slowly because the designer embedded a really high resolution photo on the page? Ever landed on a web page from a search result that includes a piece of art that confuses you because it's not labeled and has nothing to do with the content?

    When images are improperly incorporated on websites, it can frustrate users, but that's not all. Bad images may also hurt websites when it comes to user experience issues related to accessibility as well as search engine optimization problems, like bounce rates.

    It takes a bit of extra time on the front end, but proper image optimization results in better web pages. When it comes to ideal image optimization, though, the solution is easy. Just follow these best practices:
    • Use labels,
    • Minimize file sizes, and
    • Provide context.

    Labels

    Make sure you always name your files logically and use accurate and tidy descriptive labels.

    File names

    Your search engine rankings will improve if you add descriptive names to your files. Keep in mind what you want the image to rank for when you pick the name. This keyword (or set of keywords) should play a part in your file's name. For example, for a photo of a smartphone, which file name do you think would tell more valid information to a search engine: IMG_8922.jpg or smartphone.jpg?

    Alt attributes

    Images' alt attributes (sometimes referred to as "alt tags") are that provide alternative text when  images don't render on screen.

    In simple terms, the copy added as a value to an image's alt attribute is meant to be an alternative for the image in instances when the user cannot view it (e.g., slow connection, error in the src attribute, or if the user uses a screen reader).

    The alt attribute is supported in all major browsers.

    Helpful hints: As you write the text for the alt attribute, keep in mind what information would be useful to someone who cannot see the image. The text should describe the image if the image contains information. Use alt="" only if the image is used for decoration.

    File size

    To keep users happy, make sure your image file sizes are as small as possible (without sacrificing quality) to minimize download times. Note: page load times also influence SEO rankings, which is another reason to keep image files optimized.

    Compression tools

    Even if you don't have a fancy image editing program like Photoshop, you can use one of several free options online to reduce your image file sizes. Here are some options we like:
    To learn more about file image compression check out TBH Creative's recent post blog "Quick Tips: Optimizing Images."

    Context

    We've all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, and that's why captions and credit lines are so important: they provide context.

    Jakob Nielson’s important web usability study from 1997 revealed that 79% of web users scan rather than read. When scanning web pages, along with bold headlines, users are naturally drawn to images. Take advantage of this known user behavior by making sure to provide additional, relevant information through the use of captions and credit lines paired with your images.

    Captions

    According to KISSMetrics, "captions under images are read on average 300% more than the body copy itself, so not using them, or not using them correctly, means missing out on an opportunity."

    Captions, also called cutlines, are the succinct and informative text blurbs that sometimes appear with images. Most of the time, captions explain what is happening in the image that isn't obvious to help explain why it's included on the page.

    They can be deep—long enough to intrigue your user to dig in and read the body copy—or they can be snappy—short enough to act strictly as a descriptive label.

    If you don't have a caption style set-up for your website yet, this Typophile guide will help you get started.

    Helpful hints: If you want your images to show up on a Google Images search? Captions can help. They are a good place to incorporate keywords.

    Credit lines

    Credit lines identify the photographer, artist, and/or copyright holder for images. This text will often appear as part of caption text or adjacent to or overprinted on top of photos. It's the equivalent of a byline for copy.

    Choosing a color scheme for your website


    Colors help give life to a website, and influence the overall feeling it invokes. A well-thought-out color palette can be used to influence the emotions of your viewers and support the message you want your website to portray. This article will help you get started creating your color scheme by providing considerations and tips for making your selection.

    Things to consider

    Match your existing branding

    If you have existing marketing material out there, consider carrying over the same color palette to your website. It’s important to retain consistency throughout both print and online marketing so viewers can easily identify your brand.

    The Starbucks website remains consistent with their existing branding by using the same color of green as in their logo.

    Support your message

    Your website is a reflection on your company, and the colors you choose can help viewers understand what you’re all about. Keep in mind the overall message you want to viewers to take away from your website, and choose colors that will support that message. For example, if you wanted to portray your company as fun and playful, you might use bold and vibrant colors to reflect that.

    Understand your viewers

    It’s important to understand the audience of your website when choosing your colors. Colors influence the emotions and reactions of viewers, so aligning your color scheme with your website’s content will make your message more effective. For example, if your company sells nature-related products, using “natural” colors like greens and browns can evoke that feeling in the viewer, making them more likely to purchase your product. For a detailed look at the psychology behind color choice, check out Smashing Magazine’s article on the meaning of color.

    Tips & tools

    Pick a primary color and work from there

    If you aren’t sure where to start, try choosing just one color, and then work on building off of that. Start exploring what other colors might complement your primary color either by trial and error, or by using a tool such as Adobe Kuler. This site allows you to start with a color and then experiment with different methods of generating a complete color palette. You can try color schemes such as monochromatic, complementary, or shades. The possibilities are endless! .

    Think about what type of graphics and photos you will use

    If you know what type of graphics or photos will be used on your website, make sure to choose a color scheme that will enhance them, not work against them. In fact, you can even develop a color scheme from a photo. For example, the site Pictaculous allows you to upload a photo, and then it generates a color palette based on that photo. This can be useful for getting some initial color ideas!

    Pictaculous allows you to generate a color scheme from an uploaded photo.

    Limit your number of colors

    No matter how you build your color palette, you generally want to limit the number of colors you are using on your website. If you have too many colors, it could potentially look too busy and confuse viewers. Focusing on two or three main colors and then keeping those consistent across your site will create a better overall experience for viewers. If you find that you need more colors to work with, consider using neutral colors, like grays, to help fill in the gaps and balance out your color scheme.

    Take accessibility into account

    When choosing colors, you need to consider the accessibility of your website. For example, some users with vision impairments may have a hard time reading text if the contrast between the text and background is too low. Users with color blindness may struggle with certain color combinations as well. Make sure to do your research before choosing a color scheme if your website needs to adhere to certain accessibility standards.

    Test it out

    Once you have a some color scheme options, try testing them out on your viewers! Find out which colors are most appealing to your audience and support your website’s intended message.

    Tools for creating a color scheme

    There are tools out there to help you generate some inspiration and match your colors. Here are some sites you might want to check out:

    Creative content ideas for email newsletters

    Email marketing is an important part of an online marketing strategy. Newsletters and announcements are excellent ways to reach out to your audience and keep them engaged and aware of your business. Many organizations struggle to come up with valuable content for a monthly newsletter. That's why we've come up with some creative content ideas for your email newsletters and marketing initiatives.

    Go beyond the basics for more creative email newsletters.

    Product announcements. Staff bios. Case studies. All examples of solid email marketing content. But if you want a more creative approach, you need to go beyond these basics and consider these creative email newsletter content ideas:



    • Tips & trends. Save your customers some time and read industry journals for them. Highlight important trends and articles that are particularly useful. Keep it short with links for more info.
    • Surveys. Make your newsletter interactive with a survey feature. It encourages engagement and helps you connect with your audience. The surveys could be about something related to your business or something unrelated but fun. Either way - keep them short for the best impact.
    • Go graphic. Don't just send out an email full of text - think of your newsletter as a magazine... a magazine full of colors, pictures and images. Incorporate your website design for a consistent theme. Spend time on the design of your newsletter for a more appealing (and readable) presentation. See how Logansport Memorial Hospital incorporated creative design in Internet communications beyond their website.
    • Video messages. Instead of writing your message, say it! Including a link to a short (less than 3 minutes) video can be a powerful way to communicate.

    Use shorter, announcements to connect between (or instead of) newsletters.

    Your newsletter is likely to be, well full of news. It's expected to be on the content-heavy side. Sometimes however, less is more. When you're launching a new product, announcing a sale or have a timely reminder for your customers, use your email marketing tools to carry the point home.

    Email announcement from Kelly Moore Bag
    • Compelling headlines. Make that compelling and colorful headlines. A well-crafted and designed headline draws the eye and convinces your reader to open your message.
    • Use your whitespace. Don't fill up the entire email copy. Instead, look for a well-placed illustration or picture in conjunction with that compelling headline to make your point.
    • Strong call to action. Leave your audience wanting more with these shorter communications - and then be sure to give them a way to get more with a direct link to your website.

    Don't forget to plan.

    Long or short - even the best content can fall flat if it isn't what your audience wants when they want it. Before you start brainstorming topics and writing articles, take some time to plan first. Rule #1 for effective email marketing: Know your audience and then look to deliver what they want. 

    Illustration credit: BrainRider

    Email marketing planning resources



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